Game 105, Twins at Mariners
Erasmo Ramirez vs. Kyle Gibson, 1:10 pm
Sorry about yesterday’s unannounced day off – glad it worked out on a game that 1) wasn’t televised and 2) featured one of the worst offensive performances of the year. Kind of felt like a lot of took yesterday off.
The M’s look to get a split in the series with Erasmo Ramirez facing off against the Twins’ top pitching prospect coming into 2013, Kyle Gibson. Gibson’s a projectable 6’6″ righty with a hard sinker thrown at around 93-94mph. He pairs this with a slider at 85-86 and a change-up vs. lefties that comes in at the same speed as the slider. Coming up through the minors, the college-trained Gibson (U. of Missouri) posted only so-so strikeout rates and RAs, giving rise to some concerns that he couldn’t miss bats at higher levels despite above-average velocity and command of two other pitches. Beyond the raw stats, he had a string of serious arm injuries as well – a stress fracture during college and then Tommy John surgery in 2011. He returned near the end of the 2012 season, and then played in the Arizona Fall League (for the same team as the M’s prospects James Paxton and Nick Franklin). Any concern that he’d left a few MPH on the operating table were quickly erased, as he came out throwing FBs by some good hitters and getting tons of grounders. He carried that impressive stint into 2013 as well, posting a better FIP in AAA than he had in AA.
It’s probably not a big surprise that a sinker/slider pitcher in the Twins organization is not going to be challenging any strikeout records. When he’s on, he uses the sinker to get grounders, though he can get plenty of strikeouts to righties with his slider. The problem is that his change isn’t really a swing-and-miss pitch, and the sinker’s got larger platoon splits than a four-seam fastball. Thus far, he’s given up 8 free passes to lefties against just 3 strikeouts (negligble sample size alert). In the minors, he had similar issues, with a K rate far, far greater against righties. His overall splits don’t look all that extreme, however, because of either an odd fluke or a problem with hanging sliders: Since 2011, at all levels, he’s given up 18 home runs to right-handed batters against just 2 to lefties. Again, he can’t strike lefties out, and he has no problem getting righties to swing and miss, but when they DO make contact, righties have occasionally hit it a long way. Again, this is a small sample including minor league data, so it’s not like Gibson is conclusively “good” at limiting HRs to lefties, but it’s an interesting/counterintuitive stat.
Erasmo Ramirez was better in his last start against Cleveland, but he’s still not back to his 2012 form. The biggest culprit thus far has been his change-up, a pitch that looked dominant at times in 2012 and has looked like a work-in-progress this season. In 2012, he gave up one HR on his change in 187 pitches, and batters missed on nearly 50% of their swings on the pitch. They still miss quite a few (~40% of swings), but batters have hit two HRs out of 55 HRs, and he’s missed the zone more frequently (from 33% balls in 2012 to 51% this year). I think we all assumed *some* amount of regression from a pitch that looked like a cheat code last year, but I bet his struggles this year have a lot to do with his injuries and the time off he spent waiting for the all-clear on his elbow. I’m hoping we see the healthy, effective version of Erasmo in September.
1: Miller, SS
2: Franklin, 2B
3: Seager, 3B
4: Morales, 1B
5: Ibanez, DH
6: Saunders, LF
7: Chavez, RF
8: Ackley, CF
9: Blanco, C
SP: Erasmo Ramirez
I’m guessing Erasmo Ramirez knows that fellow Nicaraguan pitcher Dennis Martinez pitched a perfect game on this date in 1991. El Presidente’s Expos beat the Dodgers 2-0 at Chavez Ravine.
James Paxton continued his fine run of form last night, but took the hard-luck loss as Tacoma lost to Reno, 1-0. It was Paxton’s second CG of the year. Paxton’s looked lost for most of the year, combining wildness with a lack of stamina, but he certainly seems to have figured something out. He’s averaged 7IP in July, and has 27Ks to just 6 BBs in the month.
Brandon Maurer was recalled in exchange for Hector Noesi. Maurer’s struggled in AAA, but Hector Noesi’s struggled more, so…
Today’s MiLB starters include Victor Sanchez for Clinton, Eddie Campbell for Pulaski, and Andrew Carraway for Tacoma.